He is young, industrious and passionate about his business venture. The secret behind his winning the Start-Up of the Year category of the Bahrain Award for Entrepreneurship 2016 is perhaps because he let his heart follow his dream. And also his stupendous clarity of vision. Meet Bahrain’s promising young entrepreneur, Khalifa Al Mannai, the Managing Director of Mannai Technological Fecilitations W.L.L. as he walks us down the path to his success.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised here in Bahrain.
Tell us briefly about your educational qualifications and professional background.
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Surrey, UK in Business Management and International Communication. Then I went for an executive course in Financial Market Regulation. During my years of studying abroad I would work in the summer when I came back to Bahrain. In the first year, I worked at Bahrain Development Bank, where I was a trainee on rotation for two months a week in every department. The following summer I went to work for KMPG on its Tamkeen project under the Enterprise Support Fund (ESF), where I would visit the applicants place of work to validate their financial accounts and application. After graduation I stayed in the United Kingdom and started working for PwC under Mergers and acquisitions in order to gain shadowing experience. I did take me long to realize that it was something I enjoyed but it was not what I loved. That’s when I moved back to Bahrain to start Mannai Tech.
When and how did you start up your enterprise: Mannai Technological Facilities W.L.L?
In December 2013, I came back and designed the business model from home. I was communicating with doctors and specialists from around the world in order to validate my business model. Once I validated the model and concept I registered the company in February 2014 and focused only on Virtual Medicine.
Tell us in brief about basic services/products offered by Mannai Technologies.
Today Mannai tech has three divisions: medical, training, and projects. Under Medical comes the Phoenix portal a virtual medical gateway where you have your medical records digitalized and you make book physical appointments around the work and/or consult virtually. Our services can be broadly categorized as Training, where we offer virtual courses for the corporate world, and Projects where we offer IT solutions and consultancy for Micro Startups all the way to enterprise.
What have been the various challenges that you have encountered since the inception of your company? How did you overcome the challenges?
It has been challenging, in many different ways. Being an entrepreneur your considered self-employed in the financial world. That’s not always a good thing because when you would require facilities to keep you alive to pay your suppliers while waiting for your costumers to pay the banks can’t offer you loans or overdrafts because in their eyes you’re a big risk especially when you’re in your first few years. Another challenge would be human capital. At first, because it’s his own idea, an entrepreneur always has the feeling that there is no one out there who can deliver better than he can and spends most of his time doing all the work. But you have to keep in mind that in order to grow you have to delegate tasks in order for you to have the time to build your business. You can’t run it as a one-man show for long!
Describe how you felt on knowing that you won the AE award for Start-Up of the year?
The feeling was indescribable. In my case I didn’t actually feel it or realize it until about 15 minutes of receiving the award because of the excitement. Prior to the announcement, the minute felt like an hour but strangely at the point of the announcement the hour felt like a minute, where one would need time to really realize you have won.
What according to you are the requisite qualities of an entrepreneur?
The way I see it, an entrepreneur requires only two things. First, being passionate, and second having the willingness to see it through. The rest he/she can learn along the way, because life is a learning process.
Where do you see Mannai Technological Facilities in the next 5 years?
I hope to see phase two of our virtual medical consultations (The Phoenix portal) rolling out and I hope that we build a name for ourselves not only in Bahrain but also in the Region.
What kind of support are you looking at to achieve your goals and dreams?
I believe, there are a lot of support schemes to support goals and dreams, but they are only the catalyst, help you get there stronger and faster. At the end of the day, it will always be initiated by you and seen through by you.
What is your message to aspiring entrepreneurs of Bahrain?
To acknowledge that their will be challenges along the way, it will be difficult, but once you surpass them you get an amazing feeling of accomplishment. I always say that the entrepreneur is always as good as his ability to adapt to things along the way. Nothing will ever go as planed, always be ready.